Family Fun in New England, Part 16: Boston

This is my sixteenth and final post about our family's visit to New England. I suggest reading the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixthseventheighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth posts from the trip before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. Some places are free for everyone; we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm share is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Boston, Massachusetts

Our first destination on Monday, June 26 was the New England Aquarium. It is steps away from the Marriott Long Wharf, so once again spending a little more money on the hotel for such a convenient location was well worth it. Particularly since my foot was still swollen and discolored. 

Wow - what an aquarium! All three of us absolutely loved it. We started with the penguins. This was the single best penguin exhibit I have ever seen. Their enclosure is enormous, essentially wrapping around the center of the floor level. 

I highly recommend watching penguin feeding time. The keeper hand fed each of the penguins as much as they wanted, noting who ate how much. 

There are 50+ penguins (two different species) at the aquarium. Each penguin has a colored bracelet on one of their wings to help identify them. Females have bracelets on their right wing while males wear theirs on their left. 

A bonded pair shares the same color bracelets. Here, the male is grooming his mate. 

We watched the penguins for at least 30 minutes. It was hard to pull ourselves away, but we had so much more to see. Like harbor seals. 

And jellies. 


And sea horses. 


And sea turtles. 

The sea turtles live in a four-story tank that is 23 feet deep and 40 feet wide. It has 200,000 gallons of water. It is spectacular. Viewing it from each of the four stories gives a different perspective. 

We absolutely loved the New England Aquarium. 

Next, we took the Old Town Trolley Tour. This hop-on-hop-off bus ride is a great way to get an overview of the city, learn tons of interesting information, and get from place to place. We've done a lot of HOHO tours like this in the past and the round-trip loop is typically around an hour. This was a two-hour loop, so budget your time accordingly. Our driver was outstanding and we enjoyed his narration so much that we were never tempted to hop off!

Note the steam coming out of the teapot. It was made in 1873. 

As we rode, we saw many examples of why Boston is ranked the 2nd worst traffic in the US (behind Chicago). I would have guessed New York City before I'd spent time in Boston. I'm surprised Boston isn't #1. Maybe right now it is. 

Seriously. Do not even think about driving in Boston. 

After the Trolley Tour, we walked to the Massachusetts State House. See that gate behind where we're standing? They don’t use it. Or, rather, they use it for three occasions: the day a governor leaves on their last day in office; when a new regimental flag is honored; or when a standing president makes an official visit. (The last one who did that was Taft.) For all other occasions, everyone uses a side entrance. 

We enjoyed looking around. It's a neat building and has some features we haven't seen in other Capitols. 

Topping the list of "things we haven't seen in other Capitols" is the large wooden Sacred Cod that hangs in the House chambers. 

There's a Holy Mackerel in the Senate chamber, but it wasn’t open to the public so we couldn’t see it. Another thing we didn't see: the Liberty Bell replica. It’s being refurbished.

From there, we walked to Cheers. We went in to look around, but did not stay to eat. It was really crowded. 

We walked through Boston Public Garden and stopped at the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture to say hi to Mrs. Mallard and her 8 kids, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack.

Then we walked to Boston Common, which is where the Boston Freedom Trail Urban Adventure Quest starts. 

This Quest follows the Freedom Trail (obviously) and led us to many of the most important locations in Boston's history. And a lot more cows. 


One of the Quest questions asked about the two rival bakeries we'd visited last night, so it was fun to know the answers to that! Here's another famous food-related place in Boston. Not only is the Omni Parker House Hotel the oldest continuously operating hotel in the US, but it is also the birthplace of two beloved culinary creations: Boston Cream Pie and Parker House Rolls. 

This is the Paul Revere House, which he owned from 1770-1800. It is the oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston.

As always, the Quest took us to all sorts of places we wouldn't have seen otherwise and was a lot of fun. 

We ate dinner at the Green Dragon Tavern, a favorite place of Paul Revere and John Hancock. 

We returned to our hotel, finished up the last of our pastries, and spent our final night in Boston. In the morning, we took the ferry to Logan airport. It boarded a few feet from our hotel, was relatively inexpensive, surprisingly quick, and infinitely more pleasant than driving would have been. As soon as we docked, there was a bus waiting to drive us the mile or so directly to the terminal. It really couldn't have been easier. The flight home was long but uneventful. 

We had so much fun exploring New England and can't wait to return!

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